The Brindabella Mountains

A view of the Brindabella Range, part of the ACT-NSW border.

As a child I could see these mountains off to the west. I listened to the serialisation of Gwen Meredith's Blue Hills on the radio imagining that the horse and buggy rural existence she wrote about still existed in the Brindabella valley just over that range.

Since then, I've played in snow on its peaks, climbed the treacherous cliffs of Mt. Coree at the north end of the range, explored and camped around the Cooleman Plains to the south east and climbed Mt Bimberi – it's highest peak. I've travelled around the southern end along rocky creek beds and perched atop the vehicle looking for the wheel ruts that marked the track through tussocky flats near Yaouk – a place that time had passed by and newlyweds honeymooned on horseback through rough terrain with a packhourse and mother-in-law following behind.

I've lived rough in the bush – further north in warmer climes – and have said that one of those years was the happiest of my life, but we had kerosine for light and refrigeration and a fuel stove to cook on – even a diesel generator if we needed it. Even so, as a friend used to say, “just living is a full day's work”. Living without reliable electricity, water on tap, and mains sewage, is a tough life that few urban Greens can imagine, though they may have camped for a few days in a pretty rainforest.

Two centuries ago, people could enjoy such an existence if they were comfortably established. They knew no better. Now, wealthy westerners may be able to fantasise about the dubiously sustainable existence that ‘decarbonisation’ might involve if it was a realistic proposition. But to deny the benefits of cheap, reliable energy to the poor shows a callous indifference to human suffering.